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RASA: Essence of India - Southbank Centre

Exhibition preview

AN EXHIBITION of work by Natasha Kumar entitled RASA: Essence of India is on display at the Southbank Centre until September 30, 2014.

The RASA story begins about 10 years ago, when Natasha Kumar first began sketching the chhatri, that essential element of North Indian architecture. Often ornate, intricately carved, with a dome and eaves that combine Hindu and Moghul design, the chhatri rapidly became a central theme in her work.

The elegant symmetry of the pillars, the detailed carving of the base, splashes of raw pigment left behind after a puja, were all fascinating for her. To express the moods evoked by the chhatris at different times in the day, she took colours and contrasts from everyday Rajasthani life; bold fluorescing pinks and oranges, dark russet and turquoise.

Over time, village street-art, the Raga cycles, stories from the Hindu pantheon all became competing subject matter for her artistic development. Until, drawing the Royal Chhatris at Bundi, Rajasthan, Natasha looked up and discovered the concentric circles carved on the underside of a chhatri dome. And so the RASA collection began.

In Hindi, rasa is essence or emotion. Moving from figurative to abstract, the RASA collection captures within the harmony of the circles, the essence of emotion evoked by the chhatri. Thinking of the image as a mandala, symbolizing the universe, with the planets circling in celestial harmony around a bindu, the centre of everything, made her next step in the series a natural one.

The Rasa Mandala catches the moment when time stood still in the Rasa Lila, Krishna’s transcendent dance, the essence of divine love. A striking contemporary reinterpretation of the classic Hindu story, combining etching and screenprint, it gives us a glimpse of the gopis ethereal experience, each simultaneously hand in hand with Krishna in their sacred circle.

The Rasa Sphere completes the collection, tracking the gopis as they dance between heaven and earth over one Brahma night, lasting for millions of human years.

Natasha Kumar is an established British-Indian artist. She has been exhibiting for over twenty years and her work is collected world wide.

Admission: Free.

Times: Daily from 10am to 10.30pm.

Membership Bar, 6th Floor, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre